Dear Dr. Love,I wrote you a letter back in I think in May or June. I am 36 years old and been dating a 36 year old guy for 7 years. He freaked out when I brought up the subject of committment and marriage. You had suggested that I give it some time because he may feel threated or backed into a whole. We decided to date other people for a while, and have each dated several other people. This seems to cause some jeolousy problems on each of our parts. I had a guy friend from out of town last week end and was not able to spend any time with my boyfriend. He was really upset and depressed that we were not able to get together. But after the weekend was over – my boyfriend and I have spent every day together.We truely love each other and he told me he even talked to a couple about great honey moon spots, last weekend when I was occupied. My question is how long do you wait for the one you love to ask you to marry him? We can’t stand the thought of not seeing each other, but yet if I even hint at talking about things, he says lets not get into that right now. I know he loves me but he also needs alot of time alone, which I don’t require much of. It is hard to not think about it and talk about it so What DO I DO? Please help out if you can! Your last advice worked great. I backed off and dated other people and he has come a long way. What is the next step?36 and Waiting patiently
Good to hear your update. I am glad, but not surprised, that my original advice helped. The reason I’m not surprised is because, for the last 15 years, I have been conducting clinical and laboratory research with real couples. So, the advice I offer has been scientifically tested and proven effective at my Center for Emotional Communication, here in New York. O. K. Back to the question.Notice that your friend brought up, on his own, the question of good honeymoon spots. So, we know where his mind is ranging. Since he is moving more and more toward commitment, the best thing for you to do is to bite your tongue and not mention the subject. Every time you have the urge to bring the matter up, e-mail me instead and say, I had the urge again. You know how there are sponsors in A. A. , and whenever people think they are about to slip, they call their sponsors instead. (Think of me as your engagement sponsor. ) My point is simple. Every time you bring the subject of marriage up, even if you utter only the slightest hint, it sends him back a few steps. So, hang back or you’re going to be past menopause before the guy pops the question.Better than hanging back, why not use my ‘Extension Joining’ technique. Instead of nudging him for commitment, you actually take on his fears and voice them as if they were his own. Knowing him, you probably can figure out what his fears are (no freedom, no privacy). Whatever you think his fear is, voice it yourself. You might say, ‘I can see why people would hesitate to marry, how can they have enough time for themselves. ‘ By going along with his resistance and extending upon it (Extension Joining), you will actually help dissolve it. Remember, if you buck the resistance head on, with pressure tactics, the resistance gets stronger. Now, all the while you’re joining his fears, by all means set an end date for yourself, after which you won’t wait anymore, just to keep yourself from going insane or panicking that this waiting will never end.Keep in mind that even after he asks you to marry him, his need for space will still persist. You hinted that he needs a lot of alone time, which you say you don’t. Will you be able to tolerate a steady diet of this after you’re married? Think about it now. Because, if you can’t accept this need of his, you could be in for big trouble down the road.Point here is this: We can use all kinds of back-off and joining techniques now, and, I am sure he will come around, but, don’t think that once he marries you that he will be fully cured of his fear of intimacy. His fears of being swallowed up and taken over will probably persist. In fact, his need for space and time alone is how he manages these fears and he will probably continue to use these distancing moves after marriage in order to keep his anxiety in check. Can you live with that?Some women are O. K. with husbands that need space because being married provides them with a sense of security. You need to examine these questions now. So, do examine the questions I mentioned, and do the Extension Joining. Above all, shut your mouth when you have the urge to move in for the marriage kill (e-mail me instead) and remember to invite me to the wedding.